In this blog post we are going to talk about:
You felt it at 12:01 a.m. on January 1, 2021 – this achey kind of optimism. You want so badly to start fresh, to feel renewed and yet, here we are, still sitting in the same world we were sitting in at 11:59 p.m. on December 31, 2020.
It felt different than past new years; as we read the digital “room” that day, we saw we weren’t alone. There was a resistance to setting big resolutions this year. Cautious optimism. And maybe tempered expectations for what this new year could bring.
Everyone, and every business, has experienced this past year differently and has therefore had to cope with this last year in their own ways.
This means, that we are all starting 2021 from a different place, emotionally, physically and professionally. The only way we’re going to find our way back to each other is to act authentically from whatever place we find ourselves in.
These are the 6 ways we can find our way back to ourselves, our business vision and our customers in 2021:
No matter where you are at this year, these steps are where you can begin. Think of them like a grounding exercise for your business – reminding you of your worth, of your customer’s worth and the vision you have for your business.
If you feel energized, optimistic and ambitious, set those big goals without doubt (or guilt that you were able to get through 2020 with business success). Use that energy to pave a beautiful, welcoming path that others can follow you on in this new season. You can help other small businesses by, of course supporting them and collaborating with them, but also, advocating for small business support to your local government, sharing advice that has helped you through COVID, and connecting people to the people and resources that have helped you.
And if you have been deeply affected by the wounds of this last year, you and your business may still be in the stage of healing. You may need some time. Setting big goals may feel like too much right now, and we want you to know this – the decision not to set lofty goals doesn’t mean you have given up. Big, fast growth is exciting, but slow, thoughtful steps towards expanding your business, weaving it into this new 2021 ecosystem is also good. It’s very good.
What do we mean when we say “Expanding”?
Like the true English nerds we are, we’re going to define some terms. And we’re going to start with a good ol’ science analogy:
When you inhale, your diaphragm actually has to contract and move downward, in order for your chest cavity to increase its space, and allow your lungs to expand into this space while filling up with fresh air.
Here’s what this means:
When we inhale, the expansion of our lungs requires the contraction of our diaphragm.
Maybe sometimes we have to contract, in order to expand. We have to sink in, to grow out.
Much like our diaphragms, the world closed in on us last year. We had to shrink into our homes, our bodies and ourselves like never before.
And yet, even as our world became smaller, eventually, something in us began to expand within us. Our range of emotions, our thought patterns, our visions and longings, the kind of questions we asked and the new perspectives we heard and listened to. We shone a light into some shadowy corners and excavated some emotional barriers. And as we did, we kept uncovering more and more of what felt authentic to each of us.
This paradox of sinking in and moving out felt like expansion.
The expansion many of us experienced in 2020 was like being in an open field, screaming into the darkness of the night sky. It was about releasing energy, and making noise. It was experimenting with how loud we can scream and listening to our echo, and experiencing our fears of loneliness, and feeling tiny and powerful at the same time. It’s watching the sun go up and back down and knowing it will do the same again tomorrow regardless of how we may fight it.
Maybe this is what it feels like in your business right now. Maybe you know you’re in the “messy middle” … no longer at the start of your journey and nowhere near the destination you had first set.
What do you do then? What do you do when you’re lost? When your destination doesn’t even exist right now because of a lockdown, or pandemic-safety issues, or tight times financially?
You breathe in. You sink into your body, your mind and you expand what you thought you were capable of. You let go of the way you wanted things to go last year. You let go of things that can’t happen right now. You let go of any mistakes you made along the way, and the million variables you have no control over.
And you see what is waiting for you there … something more than a sales target, more than mindless consumption, more than more Instagram followers. You’ll see a vision.
This vision will change the type of goals you want to set for 2021. It will make you want to set goals that are more driven towards sustainability, balance, wellness, inclusion and relationship-building – for you and your business.
We can’t tell you what that vision is for you. We can just say with 100% confidence that you are capable of creating good things in this world and it is the everyday action steps you take that create that vision.
Small action steps. Val and I have always known that we’re playing the long game in our business and careers – slow, nurturing, mindful growth over time, unlike the hustling, draining forces that patriarchy pushes, that only abuse ourselves and others. Maybe you’re familiar with a few of them? …. saying yes to every networking event, saying yes to projects that don’t align with your value, having to look busy all the time, to answer every email no matter what time of day it is, using all your energy up on work, people-pleasing…
We do these things because we’ve been trained to think it’s what we have to do to build a better business. But what if there was a better way? It’s not an easier way necessarily, but it will bring more peace and ease to everyone involved.
It will make for a more enriching experience of life for you as a business owner, and for your customers.
Here’s how to practice expansion in your business without repeating the work-a-holic patterns we’re all trying to shake for good.
You are allowed to talk about your business. You are encouraged to spread the word about your business. You are worthy of being heard. You deserve to take up space in your relative conversation, whatever the platform. You are ALLOWED to ask people to buy your product, to sign up for your services (after you’ve given them reason to of course).
These might not sound like the kind of goals you usually set for your business in the new year. But then again, this year isn’t like any other new year. It’s time to set goals that will help us build better relationships, engage in more meaningful interactions and create more inspiring narratives for us to embrace in 2021.
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